I have a Media Center as my recording device running on Windows Vista which has served me really good in the past. Recently I upgraded to the digital package with my cable provider. When you do that you get a digital set top box from them to watch your channels, which obviously only feeds your TV. Therefor I had to find a solution to how I’m going to record the digital channels from Media Center as I only have a analog tuner card in my computer. I went searching high and low for such a tuner card. It turns out there are not many choices, you can get ATI wonder OCUR which can be either external or internal card, has one tuner and can only be bought second hand on Ebay or where ever you can find them it will be close to $200. Then there is the new Ceton InfiniTV 4, with 4 tuners around $400 from the source. Yes you guessed it, if you have 4 tuners in the card you can record 4 shows from different channels at the same time. The Ceton cards are not shipping in big quantities yet and there is a waiting list, there have also been some quality concerns but from what I hear most of them work great out of the box. But for me I wanted something right way and also I didn’t want to take a chance on a $400 card if things didn’t work out. So I chose to grab ATI wonder off Ebay. Once I got the card it’s time to set it up before calling the cable company to bring out CableCard for the digital tuner.
So let’s get down to the more technical aspects of the whole thing, the digital tuner card will accept a PCMI CabelCard provided by your cable provider. Luckily there is a law that mandates the cable providers to provide you with a CableCard if you need one for your recording device. You can get more than one, but then you have to pay extra. Most of the cable providers send out a tech to do the install, some of them allow you to do it yourself. In my case they sent out a tech and charged $40 for the appointment.
And of course you have to get your system ready for it first. In this case External ATI Wonder, connect your cable feed, power it up and plug the USB connection into your computer. The computer recognizes the unit and loads a Microsoft driver for it. The ATI tuner is only sold with computers specially designed to run Media Center using the ATI wonder digital tuner. To see if your board / bios is compatible you need to run a small utility program found here OCUR bios check utility. In my case the computer was NOT compatible.
Not to worry there is a tool for that as well OSFRLoader, that can be found on the internet as well. That tool will load ACPI table in memory along with your other bios information pretending that you have OCUR capable computer. It will set it self up to load when you boot your computer. After that you run the OCUR bios check utility again and it should claim that your computer is compatible.
With that out of the way you can go into Media Center and setup your TV signal. Have Media Center do the auto configuration and it should claim that you have Digital tuner. Step through the rest of the wizard and it will prompt you for PID to use with your ATI card. There is a generic PID that works for most people 263DJ-2Y9YT-6X9G6-W28DB-697TF Once Media Center accepts the PID your digital tuner is setup. Now you just need the cable guy to show up he will insert the CableCard and have it paired with HQ, once it’s working you should have full access to the digital channels from Media Center.
My Media Center is 6.0.6000.xxx and runs on Windows Vista, you might have other configuration that needs to be dealt with differently. I hear that it’s even easier to set it up on Windows 7 and Media Center has some utility for it under the extra tools menu.